Stakeholders hold workshop on ensuring access to information for hearing-impaired

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Deputy Minister U Aung Hla Tun delivers the address at the Stakeholders Consultative Workshop in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: MNa

Stakeholders Consultative Workshop was held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday for ensuring rights to Access to Information for deaf and hearing impaired people.
At the event held at Thingaha Hotel, Deputy Minister for Information U Aung Hla Tun said that according to the 2014 census, of the 4 million people with disabilities, there are 670,000 hearing-impaired people, which is more than 1.3 per cent of the total population. The hearing-impaired have fewer job opportunities and face many difficulties with regard to livelihood, and in the social, education and health sectors. Myanma Radio and Television (MRTV) had sent six staff to attend a one-year sign language course conducted by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in 2013 and 2016 and began using sign languages in the daily 8 p.m. news program from 1 September 2015.
The Deputy Minister said that on 15 March, an awareness-raising discussion was held in Thingaha Hotel regarding today’s workshop, where he became aware of the usefulness of sign languages and the difficulties faced with regard to these languages. Sign language is the first language for the hearing-impaired. In Myanmar, there are three types of sign languages—Yangon Sign Language, Mandalay and Standard Sign Languages—which are taught in three sign language schools. It is interesting to note that in the entire country, only some 70 people know sign languages. This figure of 70 out of 670,000 shows that we still have a long way to go.
Sharing some of the suggestions made at the awareness-raising discussion, the Deputy Minister said the sign languages taught in schools were found to be totally inadequate. New sign languages need to be formulated for non-routine circumstances. A person learning sign languages needs to study and learn them continuously. Laws, rules and policies related to the media should include provisions for sign languages, said the Deputy Minister.
Guests in attendance were made aware of the difficulties and requirements and then discussed the way ahead. The Ministry of Information will fully cooperate with all organisations to provide rights to the hearing-impaired, said the Deputy Minister. Next, programme director U Kyaw Kyaw of the Myanmar Deaf Community Development Association explained the aim of the workshop and programme manager U Salai David explained the outcome of the awareness-raising discussion and the suggestions made.
Later, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement school for the hearing impaired (Mandalay) headmistress Daw Thet Thet Mar Soe Shwe explained the works conducted for the hearing-impaired to be able to access information.
Following this, U Kyaw Myo Win of MRTV explained the sign language used for presenting news on television and DVB Multimedia Group Senior Broadcast Journalist U Aye Naing explained how the DVB Multimedia Group presented the news using sign language. In the afternoon, U Kyaw Kyaw discussed future works to be conducted for the hearing-impaired to be able to access news and information.
U Salai David then conducted a concluding discussion on the suggestions made by the workshop attendees. After U Kyaw Yu delivered a speech of thanks, officials from MRTV and Department of Rehabilitation delivered concluding speeches.

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